Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Its Still Not About The Gear but...
...here's my little DIY softbox. The diffusion material is a disposable pillow protector, the sides are made from black corflute, a corrugated plastic material which I lined with aluminium foil. The diffusion surface is about 1/2 an A4 in area. For the mk II version I'll at least double that but this is nice and portable and just softens the shadows, especially when close to the subject.
The last day of my ECANZ conference shoot featured an afternoon on ice at our local skating rink. Delegates could try their hand at curling or shooting ice hockey pucks, fortified by a little of the 'amber bead'. For speed I shot with my 580EXII flash bare on camera and set to ETTL exposure control.
Then it was on to the highlight of the weekend, the costume dinner at Larnach Castle. I haven't been into the grounds in years, so couldn't resist the opportunity to get some exteriors, especially as evening started to fall and the nearly-full moon rose over the building. The night was bitterly cold though, so I wasn't going to stick around out there. Besides, all the fun was inside.
I decided to try and get everyone as they entered the venue. Since it was a Braveheart-themed costume event, I figured everyone would be happy to pause for a shot of their costumes, and I was right. I found a spot at the bottom of the stairs and shot away with my softbox in hand. It didn't exactly give me beauty-dish results, especially at the 3 metres or so I was from my subjects, but you can see from the shadow on the wall that it was having a little of the desired softening effect.
If I get the opportunity to do something like this again, I'd pop another flash somewhere above for a bit of rim lighting, maybe set up a shoot-through umbrella to my left instead of the softbox, and even paint up in the background with another gelled flash. Some rim, maybe gelled for contrast, could really make these shots sing.
The meal dispensed with (Nobody wants pictures of themselves eating), there was just enough ambient coming from the stage lights for me to shoot candids with my nifty fifty 1.8 and my highest ISO setting. The images are a little noisy, but considering the event and ultimate use, I can live with that. The bonus is that I got to see some of my muso friends in action with the legendary Dunedin guitarist Jim Taylor. Some say he's the love child of Pete Townshend and Keith Richards. Others know he's old enough to be their dad but whatever the case, he's a Rock God. Gotta shoot some more musos soon.
It's been fun, trying to photograph a large function, to mix in with a crowd and capture some of the spirit of the event. Our next conference isn't until next year, but I'll be putting my experience to work before that on something that really matters... a family wedding. Stay tuned.